I just realized that I haven't updated my journal since November 2011! Well, hopefully, this will explain it a bit.
I know I am very guilty of being MIA of late. So I am doing a journal to write up all that I've been through in the last couple of months.
First off, I was made Chairman of the Alcorn State University 2012 Multicultural Festival in early January 2012. That was the beginning of life taking a turn for the hectic. The Festival was scheduled for April 17. So, at least I had a few months to get my act together. I spent the next couple of months in meetings, planning, getting people on-board, making lots of music and multimedia videos and collecting recipes of each country represented here at Alcorn and anything else related to the Festival. Plus, we decided to change the venue and the format somewhat from previous years, so we were in rather uncharted territory this year. And then...
In the middle of March, I had an episode where I almost passed out (similar to 2 years ago when I was severely anemic, because of hemorrhagic gastritis, and needed a transfusion). It took me about an hour to get my head back and then for the nest few days I wasn't really feeling like myself, very tired, weak, light-headed, stomach upset and just general feeling like crap. Early the following week, I had to go to the ER with unstoppable nausea, stomach in an uproar and blood pressure 200/100 (that was the really scary part). They did a CT scan of my gut and found indications of GERD, gastritis and diverticulosis (outpockets of the gut). They gave me Phenergan for the nausea and some blood pressure meds at the ER and a script for Nexium and sent me home. I still didn't feel quite right after that and my blood pressure plummeted to 85/40 and I felt really crummy and out of it for a couple of days. I was trying to work at home of the multimedia files that I was doing for the Multicultural Festival and putting together the National Anthems for the flag parade and the music for the Fashion Show and other performances. I also had a very bad neck at the time which made working on the desktop really painful, so my boss let me work at home on my laptop. In other words, I was not a happy camper. Then I developed severe constipation for almost two weeks which caused me to have to take Miralax, a laxative. I drank it for four days before anything happened and when it finally did, I could barely be away from the bathroom. Unfortunately on the day it started to work, I had a doctor's appointment to follow-up on the ER visit I had. It was two weeks after the ER visit, but that was the first time the doctor could see me. He drew some blood and went over the findings of the ER doctor and sent me on my way. About 6:00 that evening, I got a phone call from the doctor saying the results of my blood test indicated that my hemoglobin was 6 (which means I had about half my blood volume) and that I needed to go immediately to the ER and tell them I needed a transfusion. So, my husband drove me to the ER and we waited about 3 hours before we saw the doctor. They did another CT scan because I was still having gut issues and checked me into the hospital. I finally got a room at 11:30pm that night. They gave me two units of blood that night and I was still having to go to the bathroom about every 15 minutes because of the Miralax and I spent the entire night getting up and rolling my IV pole to the john. I was a total wreck and not too thrilled with the whole thing.
The next day the doctor said he wanted me to have an upper and lower GI scope done the following day so they were going to keep me in the hospital overnight until they could do them. Then that afternoon, the doctor who was going to do the scopes came in and said that he couldn't do the scopes the following day, he couldn't do them until the following week. By that time, the hospital doctor who ordered the scopes had gone home, so there was no one who could discharge me. So I spent the night in the hospital (my husband and my dog were not very happy with that) and the next day they drew blood to make sure I wasn't still losing any. Once they confirmed I was holding steady, they discharged me. This is now the beginning of April. I had the upper GI the following Wednesday, (couldn't do the lower scope because I couldn't finish the flush you have to drink. I threw up more of it than I got down). The upper GI also found indications of gastritis, esophagitis, a hiatal hernia and two small angioectasias (weak blood vessels that have come to the surface) that were bleeding, so he cauterized them. But, since they saw those in the upper part of the small intestine, he ordered a capsule endoscopy (I swallowed a small camera to take pictures of my gut). The following day I had the colonoscopy (I had much better luck with the flush because I didn't try to slam-drink it in 2 hours and I mixed it with ginger ale rather than Gatorade). The colonoscopy showed that I have severe diverticulosis (very deep pockets in my lower gut) and signs of chronic constipation (elongated and distended gut). I was told that I must drink Miralax religiously for the rest of my life. Because of the severity of the diverticulosis, constipation is a very big No-No because it could lead to inflammation and/or infection of the pockets, which could then bleed and or worse. Also, the camera endoscopy showed many, many more angioectasias in my small intestine and a lot of them were actively bleeding. Now, I am scheduled to have a push endoscopy tomorrow which is another upper GI endoscopy, but the scope is smaller around and longer so they can go deeper into the small intestine. Then they will cauterize the bleeding vessels and, hopefully, I will done with all these procedures and get on with trying to recover my blood and get back to my normal life.
So, that's my situation. The Multicultural Festival came off with minimal hiccups and I think overall it was successful. I learned some things that we can apply to next year. But, the stress, I'm sure, added to my GI problems and I'm delighted that it's over.
I have posted very few images in the last couple of months and I have not been very active. I have uploaded a few things, but not the usual amount that I normally do. And I am waaaaaay far behind on my comments and replies to comments. But, sometimes, these things happen and there's not a lot you can do about it except forge ahead as best you know how.
I hope everyone is doing OK and that you will forgive my prolonged absence from commenting, faving or other activities, like Fractal Circles or Challenges or any of the other fun things that pop up here. I promise I will try to be more active in the future.
A huge thank you to those who have bought my work in the last few months!!! Since October 2011, I've sold 6 prints on dA (and on RedBubble, I've sold 3 posters and 6 Greeting Cards)!! I still can't believe that people like my work enough to actually buy it! That really makes me feel better about things. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!UPDATE 05-24-12
Hello everyone! Let me first thank all those who left such wonderful comments with your concern and thoughts and prayers! What a really nice feeling to get so much uplifting feedback on my health issues. I apologize for not replying to each of you, but I will try to do that in the near future. Just know that I really do appreciate you all very much!
I thought you might like to hear the results of the last procedure I had done last week, the push endoscopy. Other than me having to wait for 3 hours for the doctor to show up, it wasn't too bad. But since I hadn't had anything to eat since 8:00pm and nothing to drink since midnight the night before, by 1:00pm in the afternoon, I was pretty hungry and my mouth felt like the Sahara Desert. But, finally he made an appearance and we got underway. After the procedure, he said that he only saw two small angioextasias and cauterized them. They were not bleeding, but they were very deep. I don't know what happened to all the ones they supposedly saw on the capsule endoscopy I had. Perhaps the medication and having a lot less stress cleared them up. But, I will still have to have my blood levels monitored over the next few months to be sure they don't pop back up and start bleeding again. It's insidious, because I am not aware that I am losing blood. There are no obvious outward symptoms, other than I feel a little weak and light-headed sometimes. But, I will continue to take my medication like a good little girl and try not to do anything that might cause this to happen again. I don't want another transfusion. Too many transfusions are not a good thing and if I were ever to need an organ transplant, the fact that I've now had two transfusions could cause me to make antibodies to the HLA antigens present in the blood I was transfused with and that could cut down on the number of donors that I could accept an organ from. I know that sounds a little far-fetched, but having done matching for organ transplant in an HLA lab for 9 years, I know how difficult it can be to find a match and it can be very hard waiting on the transplant list, hoping and praying that they can find a match before you die of organ failure. Not a pleasant prospect.
But, I am feeling pretty good and like my old self again (emphasis on "old"). And, I'm sure all the good thoughts and prayers I have received from you, my dA friends, probably helped get me there. So, big hugs and thanks to you all who were there to cheer me on and wish me well. I love you guys!